Amsterdam Offers a New Start to Young People in Debt

Debts can be cancelled upon successful completion of a training or educational program.

(RossHelen /

When people graduate from university, after throwing their caps in the air, it is time to begin to think about life in the real world. About moving out of the dorm or shared college apartment into your own place – usually a shared apartment and not your parent's basement – and finding a job because you are expected to become financially independent.

But few people think about leaving school and being in debt.  And with education costs rising, in the US and Europe, that's where most people will begin their adult life. There has been an increase in borrowing among young Dutch adults, and in other European countries too, according to The Guardian. So much so that debt is standing in the way of going to graduate school or doing the next life cycle event like getting married.

That's why the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is taking over the debts of its young adult residents as part of an initiative to help people who are struggling to begin a career or to further their education.

The city is running a trial project where the Kredietbank Amsterdam, a municipal credit bank, will negotiate with various creditors to buy out the participants debts and to replace them with a loan where payments are on a scale that depends on people's ability to pay. The city plans to donate €750 to the creditors to make it more attractive to them to participate.

“Debts cause a lot of stress. And in the case of young people, debts often determine their future,” Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, Marjolein Moorman told The Guardian. “The majority of these young people started out in arrears and, due to bad luck or ignorance, found themselves in a situation where they could not get out without help. That is why we are now going to help them so that they can make a new start.”

According to Amsterdam city news, more than one third of residents aged 18 to 34 have debts. The average student debt in the Netherlands reached €13,700 in 2019 and the number of people with student loans totals 1.4 million. Beginning a new chapter in your life is increasingly difficult with that amount of debt.

In the US, the figures are actually shocking. According to the Student Loan Hero, the national total student debt is now over $1.5 trillion with the average amount of debt of a person graduating in 2018 is $29,800. In the US, student-debt, like taxes, is not dischargeable during bankruptcy.

But that is not the case in Amsterdam. The debt-transfer program is starting now, in February 2020. To help keep the terms of the program, the city said that every participant will receive a coach from Amsterdam's Youth Point who will help them prepare a tailor-made plan that focuses on finding a job or starting further education. 

The city said that they believe "that every young person deserves a chance for a good future. and debt should not come in the way of work and/or education". This new program aims to give the young adults a chance to get a new start debt-free on their life journey and build their future. After all,  everyone deserves a chance to succeed.

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